Bishops Ring - Kansas

Bishop's Ring - Kansas: Exploring a Spectacular Atmospheric Optics Phenomenon

Have you ever gazed up at the sky and been captivated by the mesmerizing display of colors and rings surrounding the sun? One such fascinating phenomenon is the Bishop's Ring, which was beautifully captured in Kansas by Doug Zubenel on September 6th, 2007. This article delves into the intricacies of Bishop's Rings, providing a more detailed understanding of this awe-inspiring atmospheric optics spectacle.

The Enormous and Radiant Bishop's Ring

When observing a Bishop's Ring, one cannot help but be amazed by its sheer size and radiant appearance. It manifests as a brilliant pearly bluish aureole with a subtle transition from yellow to red at its edges. The captivating beauty of this optical phenomenon makes it an enthralling sight for both skywatchers and photographers alike.

Vignetting and Careful Imaging

To ensure accurate representation, Doug Zubenel took great care to avoid spurious darkening of the field edges caused by vignetting when capturing the wide-angle image of the Bishop's Ring in Kansas. By meticulously eliminating this potential distortion, Zubenel provided an authentic depiction of the phenomenon, allowing viewers to appreciate its true splendor.

Unveiling the Science Behind Bishop's Rings

Bishop's rings are a specific type of corona formed through the scattering of sunlight by tiny particles measuring approximately 1µm (1/1000 mm in diameter). These minuscule particles are often composed of stratospheric dust or sulphate droplets originating from volcanic eruptions. However, the exact source of the scattering particles responsible for creating the Bishop's Ring in this particular sighting remains unknown.

Exploring Alternative Origins

While volcanic eruptions are a common source of scattering particles, there are other potential contributors to the formation of Bishop's Rings. In this case, one possibility is the presence of tropospheric smoke originating from distant forest fires in Washington State. The complex interplay of atmospheric conditions and various aerosols can give rise to diverse optical phenomena, adding to the intrigue and mystery surrounding these atmospheric marvels.

A Visual Extravaganza

The captivating allure of Bishop's Rings extends beyond their scientific explanation. Their appearance serves as a reminder of the intricate and delicate nature of our atmosphere, showcasing the interplay between sunlight and the particles suspended within it. These rings add a touch of magic to the sky, transforming an ordinary day into a visual extravaganza that sparks curiosity and wonder.

Witnessing Bishop's Rings - A Rare Delight

Bishop's Rings are not an everyday occurrence, making their sighting a rare and cherished delight for sky enthusiasts. When these rings grace the heavens, they provide a unique opportunity to witness the beauty and complexity of atmospheric optics firsthand. Their fleeting presence reminds us of the ephemeral nature of natural phenomena, urging us to seize the moment and appreciate the wonders that surround us.

The Art of Sky Photography

Photographers, like Doug Zubenel, play a crucial role in capturing and sharing the magnificence of atmospheric optics phenomena such as Bishop's Rings. Through their lens, they immortalize these transient spectacles, allowing others to marvel at their beauty even if they were not fortunate enough to witness them in person. Their skillful artistry helps us connect with the wonders of the natural world and fosters a deeper appreciation for the magic that unfolds above us.

Embracing the Wonder of Atmospheric Optics

The Bishop's Ring in Kansas serves as a vivid reminder of the vastness and complexity of our atmosphere. It encourages us to delve deeper into the realms of atmospheric optics, exploring other fascinating phenomena such as halos, rainbows, and sundogs. By embracing the wonder of these natural occurrences, we gain a richer understanding of our planet's intricacies and develop a profound sense of awe for the forces that shape our world.


Bishop's Rings are a breathtaking manifestation of atmospheric optics, captivating observers with their immense size and radiant colors. As we gaze upon these celestial phenomena, we are reminded of the delicate interplay between sunlight and atmospheric particles. Whether we witness them firsthand or marvel at them through the lens of talented photographers, Bishop's Rings offer a glimpse into the beauty and complexity of our ever-changing atmosphere. So, next time you find yourself beneath a clear sky, remember to cast your eyes upward and embrace the wonder that awaits.

Bishop's Ring, Kansas

Imaged by Doug Zubenel

6th September '07.

The feature is huge and visible as a bright pearly bluish aureole with a faint yellow to red edge.

Spurious darkening of the field edges by vignetting was carefully avoided when taking this wide angle image and it should always be kept in mind when a Bishop's ring is suspected.

Bishop's rings are a form of corona produced by scattering from very small (~1µm (1/1000 mm dia) particles, usually stratospheric dust or sulphate droplets from volcanic eruptions.

The source of the scattering particles in this sighting is not known. Tropospheric smoke from distant forest fires in Washington State is a possibility.

Another ring.

Image ©Doug Zubenel, shown with permission.

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